Something awesome happened for me this month. I got a new full frame camera! This was actually quite unexpected but, I plan to make full use of this unexpected boost to my photography.
Since, I already have the Sony NEX-7 and I have been a fan of mirrorless technology. Also, since I have never shot with a DSLR, I am staying mirrorless. The NEX-7 is an APSC sensor camera, which means it uses smaller lenses but also collects less light. Since I really wanted a full frame camera there was only one game in town to shoot mirrorless and to go full frame. That was the Sony A7 series of cameras.
I purchased the Sony A7II from Sony’s refurbish store, Secondipity. Let me tell you, this camera so far feels 100% NEW. I have no problems with it at all. It was a 25% savings over new retail.
This camera has in body stabilization that is making steady shots at longer shutter speeds possible. My ability to shoot at night, hand held has gone up by about 4 – 6 stops of light when you combine the larger sensor with the steadiness of the camera. What does this mean? 4 stops means a shot that would ordinarily take 1/400th of a second, I can use a cleaner ISO and shoot as slow as 1/25th of a second.
I also purchased my first super wide lens! I was aching for a super wide lens ever since I rented a wide angle lens for a national park vacation in 2014.
I hope you like this month’s selections. I know that last month I had a large amount of pictures. This month I’m keeping it down to 12 images. I hope to keep a similar limit from here on out.
Last Saturday, I decided I wanted to get some experience at regular residential interior photography. When you live in Chicago, where else do you go but the legendary, Frank Lloyd Write? Well, I can’t show you those pictures of the inside because the foundation for Frank Lloyd Write basically locks you down from distributing them online or anywhere in any public forum except in your own home and in closed social networks. BUT, they can’t keep you from taking photos of the exterior! So I’ve included one of his home and studio in this post.
I also visited the Robbie house in the Woodlawn area of Chicago. Personally, I like his home and studio better because it actually felt more like a home. The Robbie house has some very interesting features to it, but photographically, it feels more like a commercial building to me than a home. He didn’t believe in having lots of ornate furnishings and knick knacks. I can say that I did enjoy his habit of making common areas like hallways ‘compressive’ and the rooms the release. I also enjoyed his habit of slowly bringing you from the outside with transition zones for both the patios and decks. You can only wonder what he would have done with today’s engineering capabilities.
But, when I went to see the Robbie house, I parked next to the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago. So I might be a sucker for the vast spaces of these churches. I also find them photographically challenging. Stained glass can be very difficult to contain it’s essence. The scope of the display is so hard to translate into a single exposure. So I keep trying. I hope you get to feel a little bit of what I felt from this place.
Technical stuff: When I took this photo, I did a five exposure brackets that were three frames wide, and five frames tall. However, the top frame was almost completely cropped away. It’s hard to get everything to line up right. I did the HDR processing first and I was careful to make sure all the settings were universal throughout the HDR processing. Once that was done, I stitched everything together and did my final adjustments. Do the math, 5 exposures per bracket x 5 high x 3 wide = 75 exposures! I had to reduce the resolution just a little so my computer could handle the data. (Time for an upgrade?)
This room is completely unique to the rest of the home. Her feminine charm is on display here. The deep wood mantles and dark tones are gone. This room is bright in comparison to the rest of the home. The paining above the fire place is of their son. He died in a drowning accident in Lake Geneva, WI. To the right was a painting of their daughter. To the left were some ancestors.
I processed this picture with HDR processing. There were three exposures as -2, 0, +2 exposure values. I tried to bring out the colors as much as possible without breaking reality. I also used Adobe Camera Raw to adjust the light of the scene to better connect with what the scene felt like.
The Dawes House in Evanston is a wonderful place to visit! This is a historical landmark. The house was the previous residence of Charles Gates Dawes, former Vice President to Calvin Coolidge. He was also a general in WWI. The house was built in the Chateau style of the late 19th century. There is a lot of amazing wood work here. There are also some stuffed animal mounts in the great hall.
Charles Gates was involved in investment banking, primarily utiilities. The house was originally set up with access to gas for heating.
The picture you are about to see is of the dining room. I was very happy to get a chance to have this shot because it wasn’t a shot that most people get to take. My tour guide was able to see what I was doing with my camera. And by the time I took this shot of the dining room:
This picture was at ISO 400, f/3.5, 1/15 sec. and 18mm. When shooting into the window, the camera wanted to keep the exosure time short compared to other spots in the house. In this case, I am using the longest exposure for processing.
Once that picture was take, the tour guide showed me an old black and white that was taken from a doorway that they don’t use anymore. But it goes to the far corner of the room. By the time the tour came to an end, we circled back to the doorway and I took the following photo:
This is really two photos that I stitched in to one, panorama style. It was too hard to line myself up as a single shot because there wasn’t enough space.
1600 ISO, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/10 second.
For more on this wonderful home, please visit: http://evanstonhistorycenter.org/tours.